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    We're two avid DIY-ers raising two rambunctious boys while tackling large and small projects, living to share our tale. All with the hope to inspire and encourage others.

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    After a rainy week in Minnesota, we finally got a clear, sunny day. Naturally, the day we left. Puffy, fluffy clouds over last season's burned hills. And yet, still beautiful. #latergram Tagged by @mrsclh for #widn Cleaning up most of today's mess. And admiring the boys' Lego creations. Always busy building. Tagging @iheartorganizing @aquahaus @houseofearnest if you want to play along.

Box it Like it’s Hot

This project is a shameless West Elm knock off.  The Contrast boxes are fun and useful in nearly any room.

But, only the tray is available right now.  Hence the knock off.  I found the perfect wood while picking up some other supplies at Home Depot.  In the aisle with pre-cut sheets (varying thickness MDF, peg board, and plywood), I saw these 1/2 inch thick solid oak boards.  Only $2.50 per 1/2 inch by 5.5 inch by 2 foot board.

Two-Tone-Wooden-Box-Oak

I grabbed three and started building when I got back home.  Using the width of the plank as my top and base, I cut two rectangles at 8 inches.  To create the sides, I cut mitered corners to fit around the base.  Not on top, as I did with my recent tray project.  So the inside of my long pieces were 8 inches, short sides at 5.5 inches.

Two-Tone-Wooden-Box-Assembly

This is where a pin nailer comes in very handy.  For each side, I’d brush wood glue on each corner or joint, hold it in place until square, and then shoot four or five 3/4 inch long nails in.

Two-Tone-Wooden-Box-Glued-and-Nailed

It leaves teeny holes, but holds everything together until the glue sets.  For my triangle lamps, I used this same method of nails and glue and they’ve held up perfectly.  Now, to deal with the recessed top.

West Elm’s version has a routered top, but I decided it would be quicker and just as effective to add little ‘posts’ to each corner.  After measuring the inside of the box, I subtracted a half-inch and glued them in.

Two-Tone-Wooden-Box-Unfinished-Inside

My top is a 5.5 by 8 inch rectangle, allowing it to rest inside the frame, on atop the corner posts.  To accommodate the leather strap handle, I measured my leather.  At 3/16 thick, I cut a slightly larger slot by drilling holes in each end and connecting the pieces with a funky vibrating saw.

Two-Tone-Wooden-Box-Unfinished-Top

Before finishing, I sanded everything with fine paper.  Using stain and paint I already had, I finished the outside with stain, and the inside and top edge with paint.  Four coats of Polycrylic to protect everything and give a little shine.  For under eight dollars, I have a cute box to stash our junk on the coffee table.

Two-Tone-Wooden-Box-on-Living-Room

It’s a nice wooden accent, but I’m worried it looks too tall.  Almost like a Kleenex box cover.  I might make a shorter one…

Two-Tone-Wooden-Box-Finished-Outside

At any rate, it holds lotions, chapstick, nail clippers, and the boys’ toothbrushes.

Two-Tone-Wooden-Box-Finished-Inside

The leather handle is a lot easier for the boys to open than the metal bin we had used.

Square-Tray-On-Coffee-Table

Two-Tone-Wooden-Box-Leather-Handle

I couldn’t think of a better way to attach the strap, so I stapled it to the underside of the cover.  I’m guessing West Elm attached their handle differently.  Haha.

Two-Tone-Wooden-Box-Leather-Handle-Underside

A lower, longer box would be great to hold our remotes, too.  I could also use one in the bathroom for first aid supplies.

Scrap Pile Creations

When I get the urge to create something, usually my first step is to raid my supplies.  Be it fabric, paint, or in today’s case, our scrap lumber bin.  It starts with a specific need, but finding ways to use left over materials is a slight way to push myself creatively.  Much like my cedar tub shelf.  And both pieces I made add function to spaces.  For our living room, I built a large square tray to corral everything on the coffee table.

Square-Tray-On-Coffee-Table-Room

I started with a piece of 1/2 inch MDF that was 22 by 30 inches and an 8 foot strip of 1 1/2 inch wide 1/2 inch MDF.  I cut the 1/2 inch piece to 22 inches square and then four strips for the sides.  All trays are assembled the same way.  Thin base material with side material attached on top.  I used 1 inch staples in our air stapler to secure everything; undersides first, then corners.

Square-Tray-Edge-Detail

Due to the nature of MDF, it bulged out and cracked along the edges.  I wasn’t concerned because I knew I’d fill it with putty and caulk.  After filling the cracks and staple holes with wood filler, I caulked the inside corners.

Square-Tray-Assembly-Detail

 

Sanding everything smooth was quick and evened out the bumps.

Square-Tray-Top-Detail

For durability, I used some white exterior paint.  After three coats, I took it outside to spray with clear gloss.  Two light coats in I noticed how the gloss had yellowed the finish.  Great.  I lightly sanded it again and did two more coats of white paint and called it a day.  Good enough, I can always repaint down the road.  To spare the table from damage, I added small rectangles of felt to the underside.  Clearly I didn’t care about the staples or paint drips on the bottom.

Square-Tray-Assembly-Detail-Underside

And now I’ve got a simple tray to keep magazines, remotes, and other crap (like the boys’ mini foods) organized.

Square-Tray-On-Coffee-Table-Corner

Because their minis are so adorable, I used a wooden drawer organizer (it was actually a tiny shelf) to display the collection.

Square-Tray-On-Coffee-Table

In other scrap pile happenings, I used a small chunk of left over cedar to make a shelf for our shower cubby.

Cedar-Shower-Shelf-Overall

Before assembly, I sanded all sides with 220 grit paper and drilled two pilot holes in each end of the top board.  Obviously this shelf is exposed to water, so I used stainless steel screws so it wouldn’t rust.  Once assembled, I coated it with teak oil for a protective layer.

Cedar-Shower-Shelf

The shelf holds a razor and bar soap, leaving more room on the bottom for bottles.  There, two quick and easy scrap projects that don’t cost a dime.

Chevron Leaves

Recently, I promised myself I’d bring more green and naturals into our house.  The bathroom is sporting a new lush look, why not add some to the living room?

Main-Bathroom-Green-Vanity-Overall

Until now I had my quirky sit and stay text bubble pillows on the chairs:

Map-Art-by-Window-in-Living-Room-Overall

Not at all natural, were they?  For a quick change, I pulled out a remnant of mossy green linen.  Great color, but alone it looked boring.

Green-Leaf-Pillow-in-Living-Room

Inspired by nature, I stamped a leaf design.  Three cheers for new life to that side of the living room!  Look at my plants, too.  Four over there, including the finicky maiden hair fern.  I haven’t killed it.  In fact, it has a ton of new growth.  It’s a miracle!

Green-Leaf-Pillow-on-Chair

After debating patterns (random, circles, lines) I settled on a chevron pattern.

To create the uneven texture, I used a piece of a foam to go box as a stamp.  Using a knife, I cut out a leaf shape.  A pencil tip worked perfectly to press light veins into the leaf.

Stamping-Supplies-Green-Leaf-Pillows

Stamping was quick and I didn’t fuss over evenness of the paint or placement.

Stamping-Green-Leaf-Pillows

Green-Leaf-Pillow-Detail

Green is good for my mood; it perks me and my home up.  Fun and fresh without being crazy or dramatic.

Green-Leaf-Pillow-in-Chairs

Green-Leaf-Pillows-in-Living-Room

What’s your favorite color to decorate with?

Faux Real

I’m still changing things in the living room.  The triangle lamps I made just weren’t perfect in the room.  Quite honestly, they got knocked over a lot because the bases are very light weight.

Honed-Marble-End-Table-Top-Right-Side

I still love them, so they’re in our bedroom and out-of-the-way of little hands.  While dropping a few things off at the thrift store, I spotted this lamp for five bucks.

Ceramic-Lamp-Before-Faux-Zinc

Instantly loved the shape, but not the design.  If it were only leaves, I think it would have looked beautiful.  The flowers and orange were too much for my taste.  So, I changed it up, inspired by pretty zinc lamps like this:

And this Zinc lamp from A Place in the Garden:

Before I could start spraying, I taped off the socket, cord and wood base.

Faux-Zinc-Lamp-Taped-for-Spray-Paint

Then gave the lamp two coats of gray primer, holding it upside down for the second to get the undersides.

Faux-Zinc-Lamp-Sprayed-Gray

To create the aged effect, I diluted white craft paint with an equal amount of water.  Using a 1/2 inch craft brush, I applied the mixture to 4 inch sections all around the lamp.  Don’t go for even here and let it puddle and drip.

Faux-Zinc-Lamp-White-Wash

I followed up with a very crumpled, slightly damp paper towel.  Lightly blotting pulled off the extra, but I left enough to look worn.

Faux-Zinc-Lamp-White-Wash-Blotted

Here it is after it dried:

Faux-Zinc-Lamp-Finish-Dry

Liking the finish, I pulled the tape off and realized I didn’t want to keep the wooden base.  So I taped off the upper lamp and sprayed just the wood base gray.  After the faux finish, I had a zinc looking lamp that won’t tip over easily.

Faux-Zinc-Lamp-Overall

I also swapped the shade for a white drum I had for a sleeker look.

Faux-Zinc-Lamp-Finish

For added protection, I sprayed the lamp with three coats of clear matte.

Faux-Zinc-Lamp-Detail

For $5, I’m super happy with the look.  What do you think?  Have you tried a faux zinc finish?  Now to find the perfect floor lamp for the other side.

Souvenir Shelf

I’m sure you all love simple, small projects just as much as I do.  If you also like personal wall art, this is the easiest, most interactive thing you can do.  A vintage printer’s tray to display little trinkets and nature finds.

Printer-Drawer-Shelf-in-Living-Room-Nook

This idea is not my own, I fell in love with it in Lauren Liessbreakfast room:

Image via Pure Style Home

Seriously, I’m hard-core in love with her new house after seeing it in Domino.  How stunning is it?!?  She’s a Pure Style Genius.

Our boys are always finding little rocks, sticks, and other small items.  Before this, I had a full bowl on the coffee table.  Sadly, that didn’t show off the mini collection.  Instead, this showcases those treasures and becomes changing art.

After looking at local shops, I came home empty-handed.  I found a few small painted shelves, but I wanted something wooden and natural.  Etsy shop, The V Rose to the rescue.  My drawer is 32 by 16 inches and in great condition.

I completely copied Lauren by hanging Ben’s first deer antlers above, to fill the space a little more.

Printer-Drawer-Shelf-in-Living-Room-Nook-Filled

The tray adds nice texture to the bump out wall in the living room.

Printer-Drawer-Shelf-in--Living-Room

Original details, the metal front, numbers, and drawer pull, are just charming, too.  A simple tooth hook holds it up and then the boys helped me fill it up.

Printer-Drawer-Shelf-Side-Detail

We’ve got rocks, sticks, feathers, bark, a fossil, souvenir pennies, shells from vacations.  Basically anything small enough to fit.

Printer-Drawer-Shelf-Item-Detail

With room at the top, we can add to our collection and enjoy our finds.

Printer-Drawer-Shelf-Side-Overall

Though we have jars of sand and other souvenirs from vacations, I think this is my favorite way to display a collection.  Imagine this in a kids room with Legos, doll house items, or small cars.  Endless options and easy to swap out.

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